A new treaty between Russia and North Korea will fight against the West

A Russian Perspective on the Cold War Bid for Global Power: Sergey’s biography of Stalin and his friendship with China in the early 1960’s

A professor at the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs is Sergey’s name. He is based at SAIS-Europe, in Bologna, Italy. His new book, To Run the World: The Kremlin’s Cold War Bid for Global Power, was published by Cambridge University Press in May.

The relationship between the Soviet Union and North Korea was not quite as good under Stalin. Kim stayed away from the Soviet camp despite the Sino-Soviet split and even sparred with the Chinese in 1969 but he always leaned to China’s side.

It didn’t go well. Putin calls the invasion of the South by the North Koreans a “patriotic war of liberation”, and that triggered the intervention of the U.S. and China. It was the Chinese that managed to push the advancing U.S. and United Nations troops back to the 38th parallel. The two nations are technically still at war, despite the end of the fighting in 1953.

Kim unleashed a purge of his opponents in the Workers’ Party of Korea in the 60’s, which he suspected of being pro-Russian and Chinese. Kim got away with his purge and embraced what Pyongyang called juche (a form of self-reliance). It was never actual self-reliance, of course, certainly not in economic terms. China and the USSR helped out the North Koreans with economic and military aid.

The Soviets eyed their sometimes-ally with frustration and annoyance, worried as they were that Kim’s militant outbursts (such as the North Korean capture of USS Pueblo in 1968 and the shootdown of the American reconnaissance plane EC-121 in 1969) would implicate the Soviet Union. When the relationship began to break in the 1980’s, the hard-liners shed no tears. South Korea was looked to by the rest of Russia.

Russia’s economic ties with South Korea grew dramatically. Seoul became a major investor in Russia’s economy, and trade between the two countries surged to over $28 billion by 2014.

The value of a well-armed militant neighbor has been discovered by Putin. North Korea began supplying Russia with much-needed ammunition for the war in Ukraine, a previously unthinkable development. Kim had a meeting with the Russian leader after visiting the Russian Far East.

A lot has changed since Foreign Minister Kim Yong Nam accused Shevardnadze of discarding North Korea like a pair of “worn-out shoes,” more than three decades ago. Putin put the blood-stained shoes back on after he pulled them out of the garbage bin. He likes the look.

The treaty creates a comprehensive strategic partnership. The text of a treaty was published Thursday by North Korea’s state media.

The agreement includes the provision of mutual assistance in the case of an aggression, Putin said at a press conference after the meeting.

A full list of agreements signed on Wednesday is not made public. And some North Korea watchers question the sustainability of the current bilateral ties.

But the United States and its allies have raised concerns that a growing military partnership would embolden the two ostracized countries and destabilize the region and beyond.

In Washington on Tuesday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said after his meeting with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken that Russia’s war is “propped up” by countries like North Korea and China. He said if they succeed, it will make them more vulnerable and dangerous.

Putin thanked Kim for North Korea’s support for the war and stressed the two countries’ historical comradeship spanning from the early 20th century to their current opposition to “the hegemony policy, the imperialist politics of the United States and its satellites,” Tass reported.

After hugs and a brief chat, the two rode in a Russian-made Aurus sedan together to the Kumsusan State Guesthouse along the capital’s streets, which flew Russian national flags and welcoming banners.

There was a ceremony filled with military bands, honor guards and North Koreans waving flowers and flags at the Kim Il Sung Square in the middle of the day.

In the press conference,Putin defended North Korea against “all the attempts to place the blame for destablization of the international situation” on his host. He wants the UN Security Council to look at the sanctions against North Korea.

He promised “full support and solidarity with the Russian government and people in carrying out the special military operation in Ukraine to protect the sovereignty, security interests and territorial integrity,” according to Sputnik.

He also suggested that the two countries can engage in advanced military-technical cooperation, in addition to increasing exchanges in trade, culture, tourism, education, and agriculture.

Leading Leaders of Russia and North Korea Sign the Decay-of-the-Kuiper Belt – Indicating a Deeper Cooperation

On Thursday, Putin went on to visit Vietnam, where he signed at least a dozen deals with the country in another step to bolster Russia’s relations in Asia.

“That’s a huge political and diplomatic achievement,” he adds, “and it may be the kind of outcome Kim Jong Un wanted the most and finds very satisfying.”

China, which has been North Korea’s only real ally since the end of the Cold War, reacted coolly to the Putin-Kim summit, calling it a bilateral matter.

South Korea condemned the treaty, and said it would reconsider its policy of refraining from sending arms directly to Ukraine, instead of backfilling stockpiles of U.S. and Polish munitions.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg commented that the agreement showed that authoritarian powers were aligning, while Japan expressed grave concern.

The value of the provisions would be converted to ruble amounts, and North Korea would be paid back with food. Essentially, this a barter system that assessed value in rubles.”

Hong Min of the Korea Institute for National Unification said that this could be similar to the Cold War-era financial settlement system.

Russia used to support international sanctions against North Korea. But more recently, Moscow has blocked U.N. Security Council efforts to tighten sanctions on Pyongyang, and in March, vetoed the extension of a mandate for a UN panel that monitors implementation of UN sanctions on North Korea.

The 1961 pact contains several conditions for providing military assistance. The aid must be in line with both Russian and North Korea’s national laws and the Charter of the United Nations, which allows the right of individual or collective self-defense.

Whatever obligations and preconditions the treaty contains, experts note, they key factor will be how the two nations decide to interpret and implement the pact.

Source: Leaders of Russia and North Korea sign pact — indicating a deeper cooperation

Nuclear Warfare in the Pyongyang-Moscow Context: How Nuclear Technology Can Improve Military Balance on the Korean Peninsula

For example, if Pyongyang and Moscow agree on it, “it’s possible that the North Korean military may dispatch soldiers to fight battles” for Russia in Ukraine, recruit volunteers or send “mercenaries to earn foreign currency,” says Chang Yong Seok, a researcher at Seoul National University’s Institute for Peace and Unification Studies.

According to Lukin and others, North Korea already has 50 nuclear warheads, and Russia is not willing to share high-level nuclear and military technology.

“The problem is that even secondary technologies can significantly improve North Korea’s weapons development,” Chang notes. “And the impact on military balance on the Korean Peninsula can be huge.”

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